The Vulnerability Factor

Perception and reality in the debate over whether U.S. missiles are in danger

The debate over where to base the MX missile system has consumed such vast amounts of presidential attention and public print that citizens can be forgiven for some confusion over why President Reagan—and Jimmy Carter before him—decided that the U.S. needs an MX system in the first place. There is a one-word answer: vulnerability. In the opinion of many U.S. arms experts, Minuteman, the principal American intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) since the mid-1960s, has become an exposed target—and therefore conceivably...

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